Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review


Introduction

We’re fascinated by foldables as much as the next guy – it’s one of few truly game-changing advancements in present-day smartphones. There’s also more than a few nostalgic folks around here, reminiscing of the good old days of clamshell phones. Well, isn’t the Motorola Razr 5G just the right blend of the two!

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

We got to spend a few brief moments with Motorola’s updated Razr for 2020 to see what’s changed compared to last year’s iteration. Key bits include the improved outer display that has gotten more useful now, the relocation of the fingerprint sensor to the back, a more powerful and 5G-capable chipset, and a revamped camera system.

The outer display maintains its 2.7-inch diagonal and 800x600px resolution but can be used for more stuff now – it even lets you type on an on-screen keyboard though you may still prefer the voice-to-text approach. The fingerprint sensor is no longer in the chin, but is on the back keeping company to the M bat logo – feels like a more natural position.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

While not strictly ‘flagship-grade’, the Snapdragon 765G chip is much better suited to the Razr 5G’s price tag of €1500 than the 710 was on the Razr (2019). It brings next-gen connectivity alongside a leap in number-crunching potential. The doubling of storage to 256GB and the RAM bump to 8GB round off a much nicer package when it comes to the fundamentals.

The basic 16MP main camera of last year’s phone has been swapped out for a 48MP Quad Bayer type, and a 20MP selfie shooter of the same variety replaces the 5MP unit on the inside.

Here’s a quick rundown of the other internals before we move on to the hands-on area.

Motorola Razr 5G specs

  • Body: Unfolded: 169.2×72.6×7.9mm; Folded: 91.7×72.6×16 mm; 192g; Plastic front (opened), glass front (closed, Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame (7000 series), hinge (stainless steel); Water-repellent coating; Colors: Polished Graphite, Blush Gold, Liquid Mercury.
  • Display: 6.20″ Foldable P-OLED, 876x2142px resolution, 22:9 aspect ratio, 373ppi; Second external G-OLED display, 2.7″, 600x800px.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G (7 nm): Octa-core (1×2.4 GHz Kryo 475 Prime & 1×2.2 GHz Kryo 475 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 475 Silver); Adreno 620.
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM.
  • OS/Software: Android 10.
  • Rear camera: 48 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS; Dual-LED dual-tone flash, auto HDR, panorama.
  • Front camera: 20 MP, f/2.2, (wide), 0.8µm; Auto HDR.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: [email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps, gyro-EIS; Front camera: [email protected]/60fps.
  • Battery: 2800mAh; Fast charging 15W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer; NFC.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

There’s something inexplicably satisfying in flipping your phone open to answer a call and then closing it back to end it. It’s one feeling you can’t get with the generic slab of a smartphone that most of us have. Well, you can’t really quite get it with the Razr 5G either, not entirely – you see, the closing click has been dampened so it’s not the same as on the original Razr from the noughties.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

But if that’s not nitpicking, we don’t know what is. You’re still getting a 6.2-inch full-fledged smartphone that folds in half to the thickness of a deck of cards, with a smaller footprint than one too. Add to that the trouble-free single-handed opening and closing action, and we can hardly think of something to complain here.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

It gets better too. When the Razr 5G is in its open state, there’s practically no visible crease. You can barely feel some unevenness when swiping with your fingertips and it takes a fingernail across the middle of the display to actually make out where it folds – it’s nothing like the Galaxy Z Fold2.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Another difference when comparing to Samsung’s most recent foldable is in the feeling you get when swiping on the screen. The Razr 5G feels very smooth and your fingertips glide freely across the screen while there’s a lot more friction when operating the Fold2.

There is the slightest wobble between the two pieces when the phone is unfolded and you deliberately shake it. It’s not noticeable in operation, but still – the Fold2 is rock-solid even when open.

With the fingerprint reader moved to the back, the chin is now smaller – a most welcome development. Whether they moved the FPR to the back to house a couple of 5G antennas in the chin or there’s no cause and effect relationship we don’t know, but the FPR is on the back and there are a couple of 5G antennas in the chin. Two more 5G antennas are placed in the upper half of the phone too.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

When you flip the Razr closed, it leaves virtually no gap between the two halves – not even a piece of paper can fit in there, Motorola says. They didn’t have a test piece of paper, and we didn’t specifically bring one either, but the phone does shut closed very tightly.

This year’s model is made of more premium materials too. Where the Razr (2019) had plastic panels on the backs of the two pieces, the Razr 5G uses Gorilla Glass 5 for those. The frame is made of 7000 series aluminum, and stainless steel is used for the hinge cover.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

To alleviate concerns over the phone’s durability, Motorola quotes a 200,000 actuations rating for the hinge – that would be some 110 open/close cycles a day for 5 years. Use it as a fidget device all you want, and the hinge should be okay, judging by these numbers. That doesn’t really address the display’s longevity though, we think?

On a similar topic, the Razr 5G has its internals coated with a water repellent finish. It’s not a proper IP rating for dust and water protection and you better not dip the Moto in the bathtub, but it should still have you covered against some light rain, for example.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

While the Razr 5G does get a bump in battery capacity (2,800mAh vs. 2,510mAh on the old phone), it remains a fairly small power pack in today’s context. Motorola insists that the Razr 5G will deliver a 1-day battery life, but their estimates could very well be based on more extensive use of the cover display. For all its enhanced functionality, the external screen is still fairly limited and you’ll likely default to the main one for the vast majority of use cases.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Overall, we’re digging the form factor in both the unfolded and folded state. It’s really comfortable to use when open – it makes for a mostly ‘regular’ smartphone experience, if on a relatively tall smartphone. The chin doesn’t get in the way at all either. Meanwhile, the closed state lets the Razr 5G nearly disappear in pockets.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

A few words are due for the presentation too. The Razr 5G arrives in of the fanciest retail boxes we’ve seen – it’s nicer than the one of the even more expensive Galaxy Z Fold2. And it’s not just for show either – the plastic bottom of the box can be used for an audio volume booster, while the woven fabric accessory box can double as a sunglasses case.

Retail package - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Retail package - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Retail package - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Retail package - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Retail package

Camera

The Razer 5G gets improved cameras outside and in, though it’s far from a trendsetter in the imaging department. On the ‘back’, the main camera now uses a 48MP sensor with a Quad Bayer filter array and takes 12MP images. It’s paired with a 26mm-equivalent f/1.7 aperture lens with optical stabilization.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

This makes for a fairly standard midrange unit – one that you can find on phones, say, one sixth of the Razr 5G’s price. It’s the only cam facing that way – there’s no ultra wide, and there’s no telephoto either.

Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/4080s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/4328s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/1429s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/2658s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/1810s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Motorola Razr 5G samples - f/1.7, ISO 50, 1/1731s - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Motorola Razr 5G camera samples

When you open up the phone, in a notch above the display you’ll find another camera – let’s call it the selfie camera for now. This one relies on a 20MP sensor, this too of the Quad Bayer sort with an f/2.2 aperture.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

We can’t see it used for anything other than video calls, however. The main camera outside doubles nicely as a selfie cam with the Quick View display serving as a viewfinder. You get selfies with the quality of main camera photos, which is always a good thing.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

The camera app is now called Moto Camera UI 3.0, one of the notable custom bits of software on the Razr 5G. Motorola says the new UI will be seeded to other models in the lineup over time. In the limited amount of time we spent with the Razr we couldn’t see radical changes compared to previous iterations though.

Moto Camera UI 3.0 - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Moto Camera UI 3.0 - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Moto Camera UI 3.0 - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Moto Camera UI 3.0

Software and Quick View display

The Razr 5G we got to experience was running Android 10 with the usual Moto bits on top, plus some extra features to make use of the outer display – or Quick View display in Moto speak.

No longer basically just a glorified always-on display for notifications, the Quick View display on the Razr 5G comes with enhanced functionality to hopefully save you a few trips to the big internal screen. You can run apps on it, initiate calls, even type messages – with an onscreen keyboard. It’s usable in a pinch, though perhaps the speech to text route will be more convenient.

Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Apps on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Apps on the Quick View display

One of the main use cases for the external display is for picture taking and you get a fully functional camera UI in there for selfie-taking purposes. Alternatively, if you’re using the phone in its open state to take pictures of other people, the external display shows a smiley face to keep them looking at the phone, and they get to see the end result in there once you click the shutter release.

Camera UI on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Camera UI on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review
Camera UI on the Quick View display - Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Camera UI on the Quick View display

Having said that, the UI on the external screen is still fairly limited. Motorola says that not all apps want to play nicely with the small display so they’ve done as much as the form factor allows for.

Wrap-up

Foldables are rapidly evolving and just as the Galaxy Z Fold2 is superior to the original Fold, so too is the second Razr from Motorola. The Razr 5G from 2020 comes with higher-grade internals, improved materials and mechanics, and software refinements to make better use of the external display.

Motorola Razr 5G hands-on review

Some things aren’t quite awesome, however. The most obvious one is the €1500 price tag, but flexible displays do command a premium and you are paying for exclusivity. The other bit that leaves us wanting is the camera system – with a single cam on the Razr 5G’s back, you’ll be missing out on some shooting opportunities that other phones will easily handle with a simple switch to one of the other modules, modules that the Moto simply doesn’t have. The third concern for us at this point is battery life – the Razr’s power pack is smallish next to pretty much every phone with a comparably sized display.

We’ll be sure to do a full review on the Motorola Razr 5G as soon as we get a chance – a lot of questions remain to be answered.

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